Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

Choose a Repair Company

Types of sewer and plumbing repair services

Companies offer a full range of services, including unblocking, repairing, and replacing sewer lines or pipe, but some specialize only in certain areas. There are three main types of repair services:

  • Rooter services unclog plumbing and private side sewers using water pressure or mechanical “snakes.” Make sure the rooter service’s snake cable is long enough to reach from a property’s side sewer to the City’s sewer main. Caution should be utilized with high-pressure cleaning tools as they can damage pipes further. Rooter companies also might repair and/or replace side sewers.
  • Side sewer contractors repair and/or replace structural problems, such as breaks or holes, in side sewers. Some contractors also might unclog lines.
  • Plumbers repair leaky or broken fixtures and they install systems in new construction and remodeling. If only some fixtures are not draining, or if pipes are leaking, a plumber might be able to remedy the problem.

Getting recommendations and bids

  • Ask friends and relatives for recommendations.
  • Property owners may check with the Better Business Bureau at (206) 431-2222 to find reputable companies.
  • Since companies offer a wide range of prices, it’s a good idea to get at least 3 written bids before choosing a company.

All repairs performed in the city right-of-way must be done by a contractor licensed and bonded to work in Seattle. Visit Registered Side Sewer Contractors for more details.

Questions to ask the sewer contractor

Make sure you have all questions answered in legible writing at the time of service with the provider’s signature and date.

Where is the blockage?

If your line is rootered, have the service provider write down the specific footage where the blockage was found (or where they think it is). Also have the provider mark the spot on the ground. This information is helpful in determining if the problem is within the city’s area of responsibility. The mark can be helpful if you must dig up the pipe to repair it.

What is causing the problem?

Have the service provider write down the probable cause of the blockage. Knowing the type of blockage will help determine what method should be used to open it, and if regular maintenance of your side sewer is needed to prevent future backups.

Should a TV camera be used to see blockages in my line?

TV cameras generally are not effective in determining what is blocking a line. They cannot see under water, so if a line is blocked and not draining, the camera won’t be able to see inside your pipes. Camera inspections are most useful after the blockage has been cleared to determine the condition of your pipes and where future problems might turn up.